Farhad Humayun Shares His Coke Studio Experience & More [Interview]

Farhad Humayun, the founder of Overload and the new Coke Studio house-band drummer, talks about his experience of being part of Season 5, the magical moments he witnessed during the recording, his favourite performances and more in an exclusive interview with KoolMuzone.

How do you feel about your performance on Coke Studio. What kind of reaction are you expecting from the audience?

I played drums on 40 songs out of which the public will get to see 25. It’s been the most professional setup I’ve played in. Playing with all the best musicians of the country & the genius of Rohail Hyatt & his team has been very refreshing because I feel music can be taken as a professional career if managed the way these people do it. Usually I play in an improvisational environment when Overload plays live. Here I had to think about the parts I was playing so all 40 songs wouldn’t sound the same. I think eventually all of us worked very naturally together as if we’d been playing together all our lives.

As far as the inclusion of Overload is concerned, I’m thrilled because we’ve always been the underdog & only someone like Rohail has had the eye of picking us up even if in the fifth season. All the biggest & strongest names in music are playing this season. I’m certain all of them will sound great. I’m really happy about how we performed. Myself, Sheraz, Nasir Sain, our new prodigal guitarist Umair Nadeem & Ustad Jaffer & his brass band will be seen kicking up a storm in the episodes to come.

Tell us something about the songs you’re performing?

We’ve done our first ballad. It was sounding beautiful on set. I haven’t heard the final mixed version yet. I will when it comes out – I’m really excited about it!

The second song is a duet – You’ve all heard it before but Coke Studio reaches out to a wider range of people. Wait for it!

Tell us about some of the magical moments you had while shooting Coke Studio.

Atif’s set was awesome to play on. We recorded his set the second night of recording. We started at 11 at night. Owed to his many costume changes & last minute changes to the songs we ended at 3 a.m. The house band was half asleep yet still enthusiastic in zombie mode because Atif’s commanded that. His experience over the years really shines though. In addition to the songs we rehearsed, we wrote a new tune also.

Other than him I had great fun with SYMT’s songs because they brought a fresh & young perspective to the usually serious Coke Studio tradition. Asad Ahmed & I being metal heads really enjoyed the ending of TUM KAHO. It’s very AC/DC.

I don’t think anything can go wrong when such great artists work on something together. So, how was it to make the songs with the house band?

I was called in as a drummer very late. The songs were pretty much rehearsed when I got there but Babar Khnna, Sikander Mufti & I formed a rhythm unit immediately. I think together we added something new to the already seen & heard Coke Studio.

Mannu is the greatest bass player in the country. He’s a dream to groove with. He makes it seem so easy but actually his playing is very complex.

Asad Ahmed & I click very well. It seemed very natural to play with him. Omran loves odd time patterns & it was a breath of fresh air to learn part he’d constructed. The new keyboard player Mubashir is very subtle & sophisticated just like a keyboard player should be. Mufti & Babar are madddddd players. In fact Mufti has played drums with Overload while I sang & played percussion.

Zoe & Rachel are both really good & work out their parts themselves.

What people don’t realize is that Rohail is also a vital part of the band. When we’re rehearsing he lends his energy to everyone & makes the band a cohesive unit. He’s the conductor of the orchestra.

Tell us about some unseen moments that probably the fans might not get to see on the show.

Uzair Jaswal’s heart rate shot up to a degree where he had to be hospitalized. The doctor said it was owed to his excitement & anxiety. He was fine the next day but he gave all of us a big scare.

Whose performance touched you the most? Do you have a favourite song in the season?

I think my favourite is a song called Pavan by Mithu. He’s the sweetest voice I’ve heard in many years. Tum Kaho by SYMT is also a contender. The most fun song to drum on was Uzair Jaswal’s bubblegum tune. Wait for it!

What are your thoughts on the future of live music, and the challenges the industry faces moving forward.

Live music is played to an audience. No security = No audience = No ticket sales = No concert
Plus the government needs to have a stance on music & art in general. People in power aren’t sophisticated or educated enough to see how much money & popularity there is to be gained if they take this seriously. 65% entertainment tax makes no sense. It’s to discourage people to play. However, there has been resurgence & we will play what we want, when we want & where we want. Music is not haraam. It’s a great profession to be in.

When you mix the genres tastefully I think the end result always come out something new and fresh. Did you experiment with your music or did you hone in on one type of sound?

Our songs will sound a lot different from our usual sound as the loudest band in Pakistan. The Dhol has been played softly & I’ve played percussion with jazz brushes on one of my songs. I’m also singing in a very traditional style compared to my usual rock style.

What motivates you in this musical journey?

Books I’ve read, Music I’ve heard, Conversations I’ve had with people, places I’ve been to have all formed the person I am. There’s a universe of inspiration within you to be inspired by if you know how & where to look.

What do you think the biggest differences were between the last season and the new one?

Well I don’t know because this is my first season. That’s for people to gauge!

– Photography by Kohi Marri